The challenge: Launch an egg 50 feet into the air, prevent it from splattering upon landing and try to advance to the next round of the Science Olympiad.
For Mark Morris High School students Stephanie Herrera and Rihana Master, the plan got a little scrambled at Lower Columbia College on Saturday. They got the launch right, but their egg didn't survive its fall.
Saturday marked Mark Morris students' first Science Olympiad, in which students compete in egg parachuting, bridge building and construction. Herrera and Master, 16-year-old sophomores, said the valuable Egg-O-Naut experience they gained will prepare them for next year.
"We're going to improve so much. We already know what it's like," Master said.
LCC hosted the regional Science Olympiad competition Saturday for the second year in a row. The one-day event attracted 29 teams — more than 400 high school and middle school students — from all over Southwest Washington. Mark Morris was the lone Cowlitz County school to compete.
Competitions ran all day at LCC, testing students in various science fields.
In the gym, students launched homemade propeller planes, hoping to stay airborne the longest. The best planes slowly hovered in circles up to the rafters before gently landing two to three minutes later.
In another room, students tried their hand at building small-scale bridges. The bridges, measuring about a foot long apiece, were draped across two desks. Volunteers slowly poured sand into buckets tied to the bridges' supports as judges kept track of how much weight the spans could withstand before breaking.
The weekend's top competitors advance to the state level next month at Eastern Washington University. The national Science Olympiad will be held May 21-22 at the University of Illinois.
In addition to the Mark Morris team, students from LCC and R.A. Long High School helped keep score and run events, said Adam Wolfer, an LCC chemistry instructor and co-organizer of the event. The Science Olympiad teaches them valuable science lessons and gives them a chance to volunteer, he said.
"I think that's a good thing to instill in anybody," Wolfer said.
Most of the students traveled to Longview from the Clark County area, where students receive more exposure to the engineering industry because of their proximity to the Vancouver-Portland area, said David Rosi, co-organizer and LCC computer science instructor.
"It's an opportunity for kids in the area to get some nice exposure and competition in an area (science) they don't normally get to," Rosi said.
Herrera and Master said they heard about the competition from their principal, but they were fuzzy on some of strategies. For example, the plastic bag they affixed to their egg as a parachute didn't slow its fall enough to prevent cracking.
The girls also participated in an event called Write It / Do It, in which one wrote down how to build something, then the other had to read the instructions and build the object.
Both said they enjoyed their maiden Science Olympiad voyage and were glad they tried it out.
"We're both really into science, and we thought it would be really fun," Herrera said.